Hannah Sessions

“Politics are hard in a small town, and this year’s race for our county’s two senate seats is no exception. I attended a recent forum in Middlebury and got to hear from all candidates. I certainly think highly of all four Independent and Democratic candidates. Marie Audet runs a highly respected dairy farm and has done a tremendous amount for dairy in our state and comes across as a kind and heartfelt person. Paul Ralston is a dynamic businessperson who has grown a great brand. This election, however, I am supporting Ruth Hardy and Chris Bray for our two senate seats and here is why:

These two are workhorses. I have known Ruth as a school board member, leader of Emerge, and now as an extremely thorough, energetic, and ever-present candidate on the campaign trail. It seems as though when Ruth commits to something she lives, eats and breathes it. As our current senator, Chris Bray is probably the most reachable legislator imaginable. Whenever I have had a question, comment or concern Chris responds every time —usually that day! Even if you disagree with him (as I have on occasion) Chris puts in the time to listen and respond thoughtfully and at length. He truly seems to live the role of public servant. If we send them to Montpelier we know they are both 100 percent “all in” representing us.

Secondly, both Chris and Ruth are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something. Early in the campaign Ruth sought out my and others’ advice on issues involving agriculture as she is the first to admit it is not her area of expertise (my husband and I have a goat dairy farm and manufacture cheese). I trust people who choose to seek out answers from those on the front line instead of relying on hearsay or falling in line with party positions. Chris has always been an advocate of agriculture, but when he helped to craft a bill called “Citizens’ Right to Know,” part of it was especially controversial with farmers. He listened to all of our concerns and when the bill came back before him he made changes to the bill which directly addressed our concerns (ask him about it — I can assure you he will get back to you).

I think both Ruth and Chris are very practical and fiscally conservative. I don’t buy that only Republicans (or Independents) know how to promote business. Democrats in Vermont have a record of promoting fiscal and social programs that in my mind are true economic drivers. Our family business, for instance, exists because of Democratic programs like Dr. Dynasaur and various state-funded land and energy conservation programs — not despite of them.

Lastly, and most pragmatically, we have a good system of checks and balances in our state. We also haven’t denied a Governor a second term since 1962, so though this isn’t an endorsement for Gov. Scott, in the case of his re-election we need a strong Democratic voice in the Senate. We need to keep advocating for programs that are real economic and community drivers, and that reflect well on our state on the national scene, and I feel that Ruth and Chris will do this.”

Hannah Sessions owns and operates Blue Ledge Farm in Leicester. This letter appeared in the Addison Independent on October 18.